The ThinkTank Panel (of One) proudly presents the 30 Most influential People of the last 30 years. These are the people who have shaped and molded the ThinkTank Panel (of One) into what it is today; Arrogant, Neurotic, Ostensibly Ostentatious, and Prohibitively Expensive. Today we look at #25.
Most people don't know #25 on the countdown. He played for some truely awful teams in a city that is 1200 miles away from any other NFL franchise. But Chris Warren was one hell of a running back. As a kick returner he single handedly won 2 games on a team that won only 2 games all season. He once set a ProBowl rushing record that only lasted 2 plays. Most football fans will recognized the name Larry Johsnon, yet Larry's hey day was roughly half as long as Chris Warren's.
More than statistics or touchdowns, Chris Warren personified a style. A style unseen amougst his peers in the 90's, or in the game today. He wasn't low and shifty like Emmitt Smith or Marshall Faul. He wasn't a battering ram like Jerome Bettis and Eddie George. He wasn't an excape artist like Barry Sanders . He wasn't even ultra fast like Chris Johnson is today. He didn't hit the hole with reckless abandon like Rickey Watters or Adrien Peterson. He wasn't a pateint runner who then exploded downfield like Ladainian Tomlinson or Shaun Alexander. Chris Warren had a style all his own. In a word: Smooth.
Chris Warren glided up and down the field. His stride was effortless, yet with every step you sensed how hard he played the game. He ran up-right, just like Michael Johnson in the 400 meters. He shed would-be tacklers with a violent yet casual stiff arm or a subtle change in vector. He never stutter stepped, juked or wasted any movement shifting gears. Even when when he fielded a kick off and reversed field at the 40 yard line and ran east/west from one sideline to the other before turning up field and taking in to the house for a score against the Colts , Chris Warren did so in one fluid motion. While some runnings backs play like a bulldozer, and other play like a Ferrari, Chris Warren played football like a Cadillac .
Alas, Chris Warren wasn't so smooth at other aspects of his life. But the night that the ThinkTank Panel (of One) met him at the Hawks vs. Cops Charity basketball game in 1992 he was smooth as silk. The ThinkTank Panel (of One) can still vividly recall this sequence. Chris Warren blocks the lady cop's shot to a chorus of boos from the police partisan crowd. Unfazed, he races down court for the night's only dunk on the other end to oohs and awes from the now suddenly forgiving crowd. Chris Warren then comes back down the the floor on defense and steals the ball which he calmly tosses with a no look pass, not down court to his cherry pick Hawks teammates, but to the lady cop whose shot he just blocked standing under the basket who scores from point blank range to thunderous applause. Smooth.